The Department of Public Health has urged consumers not to consume Parboiled Long Grain Enriched Rice of the Blue Ribbon Golden brand or Enriched Parboiled Long Grain Rice of the Uncle Ben's brand.

This is in terms of the Food Safety Act and the EC Regulation 178 of 2002, as a precaution due to the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMO RICE LL601) which are not authorised in the European Union.

The rice originates in the US.

A spokesman for the Health Department explained that foods containing GMO have to have the approval of the European Food Safety Authority to enter an EU country. On the other hand, GMOs are approved in the US, which is the country of origin of the rice being recalled.

In the case of the parboiled rice at issue, following foreign and local tests that revealed GMOs, it was decided to recall such products imported to Malta, the spokesman said.

The Blue Ribbon Golden brand Parboiled Long Grand Enriched Rice comes in 454g carton boxes and its durability date is March 15, 2007.

The Uncle Ben's Enriched Parboiled Long Grand Rice comes in 907g (2 lb) carton boxes and 2.27kg (5 lb) plastic packs. Their durability date is June, 2008.

They belong to the lots 625ELGRV05 in the case of the 907g pack and 625LKGRV045 in the case of the 2.27 kg plastic pack.

For further information one can contact the Department of Public Health on 2133 2225/2132 4093 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Importers Masterfood said tests have shown a low rate of GMO presence.

It said that although there was no food safety issue, in the light of the EU regulations, the company advised anyone having such Uncle Ben's rice to return it to Francis Busuttil and Sons (Marketing) Ltd and get a replacement bag.

Masterfood said the issue concerns the bags bearing the references mentioned and no other Masterfood products are affected.

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